This walk takes you on a circular route from the lovely village of Marlow, along the River Thames, around Spade Oak Lake, and then circles back through the tiny little, Little Marlow with two great pubs and a 12th century church.
Fun fact: Little Mallow was a filming location for Star Wars.
What was the Little Marlow walk like?
Most of it I really liked. The riverside trail is slightly more rugged than the previous section of the Thames Path from Henley to Marlow. I got to see some horses, and Spade Oak Lake is lovely to walk around.
What I didn’t like was the last bit of the walk, from Little Marlow back to Marlow. The route I took was nice enough at first, then I got a little bored, then the peace was disrupted by the very loud A road. It tainted the quaint countryside mood a little.
So, if you come and do this circular walk from Marlow to Little Marlow, I would do everything the same except the last bit. I will show you what to do different when I describe the walk below.
There were also some interesting signs.
Logistics for the circular Little Marlow walk
- Start/Finish: Marlow (in Buckinghamshire on the edge of the Chilterns)
- How to get there: There are regular trains from London Paddington. Journey time is about 1 hour and involve one change at Maidenhead.
- Distance: 6 miles
- Time: 2h
- Elevation: Pretty flat (except the bridge over the road)
- Terrain: Dirt trail, grass, mud, some road
- Difficulty: Easy
- Time of year: I did this at the end of winter
- Amenities: A few benches en route. A couple of pubs at Little Marlow (The Queens Head and The King’s Head), and everything else you could need in Marlow. Including a number of Michelin start restaurants and pubs. Including the first pub in Britain to get 2 Michelin stars (The Hand and Flowers – Tom Kerridge)
- Dog Friendly: Yes
Map for the circular Little Marlow walk
More suggested walks nearby will be at the end
A guide to the circular Little Marlow walk
If starting from the station, there is a quicker way to get to the River Thames. If you walk along the Station Approach, then turn left onto Lock road, this will get you there. However, I wanted to go over to Marlow town first as it’s quite lovely, and the bridge is worth a see. I would recommend this.
So, walk along Station Approach, then take a left onto Station road, and this will take you all the way to Marlow Town. When you reach the high street, turn left to walk towards the bridge.
Find the Thames Path to start the walk to Little Marlow
I say find the Thames Path because you can’t actually walk along the river from the bridge in Marlow. A bit of navigation is needed now.
So, if you go back to the church, and on the other side just before leaving the graveyard, there is a small trail to the right. Go along it.
When you reach the road, the trail is just to the right of the Two Brewers pub. When you reach the next road, go right, and follow it as it curves around.
Look out for this Thames Path sign which will take you back to the river.
Walk along the Thames Path past the big houses
Now it’s as simple as just following the riverside trail. You will pass a field on the left with horses, and will see many giant homes on the other side of the river. I learnt, when I walked from Henley to Marlow, that this is where the rich people come to live.
Walk across the large fields
After a little bit, you will walk through a gate to take you into the first of about 20 fields…Just kidding. But there are a lot.
Keep going through field after field, keeping the river to your right. You might see the mini Maidenhead to Marlow train pass by on the other side. If you arrived here by train, you will know.
When you reach this house (photo below), turn inland towards the railway track, and cross over it.
Walk around Spade Oak Lake
Over the tracks, you will reach Spade Oak Lake ahead. Walk to the right of it, and follow the trail all the way around.
The trail is sort of woody, with openings to the left across the gorgeous lake. It looked super inviting, maybe a summer swim place….until I saw the sign warning of risk of death if you swim in it. I think I will pass on that one.
I have made my opinion known already, about how I’m tired of dead looking trees. You know what I mean, no leaves. No green. I feel like I have forgotten what trees with leaves look like. But you know what I saw today…cherry blossoms. That put a spring in my step. The time is coming.
Walk to Little Marlow
You will circle Spade Oak Lake like a backwards C, before the trail takes you away from it to walk towards Little Marlow. When you are out of the wooded area, go left to walk along the edge of the field.
Keep following this trail, as it takes you across a little road, and then it curves you to the left and over a cute little bridge.
You will be circling a grand, fancy looking house to your right. Then when you reach the next road, go right to walk into Little Marlow.
Alternate way to walk back to Marlow
First off, if you want a pub stop, take a left onto Pound Lane where you will find The Queen’s Head.
When you have finished, to walk back to Marlow, this is the way I suggest:
If you came to the pub, go back along the road and turn right. Keep going past the trail you got here on, and this will lead you back to Spade Oak Lake (a different part to what you walked along earlier). The road leads directly onto a trail which will take you back to the railway track you crossed earlier.
Hopefully you will know where you are by now, but if not, when you cross over the railway track, you will be back to all those fields. Turn right in the field, and follow the river to walk all the way back to Marlow.
Now I will show you how I walked back to Marlow
Past the Queens Head Pub in Little Marlow, there is a walking trail. At first it was quite nice. A bit woody, with occasional opening to the fields on either side. There wasn’t much to look at in the fields on the right, but the ones on the left had some interesting growth.
I felt that the trail became a little less interesting as I kept going, crossing over a few small roads, and then the sound of the A road ahead.
As I got nearer to the road (unsurprisingly) it got louder, but louder to a point it was now annoying.
Just before reaching the road, there is an option to take a trail to the left which will take you straight down to the River Thames. I decided to just go ahead and cross the road, as once I got across it, I would be able to walk directly away from it immediately. If I took the left trail, I would be walking alongside it for some more. I didn’t want to prolong the noise any more than I had to so, I went ahead and crossed over.
The final stretch of the Little Marlow walk
At this point, I felt like I wasn’t on a nice walk anymore, but was just making my way back after it had finished. That’s why I would recommend taking the alternate route I mentioned earlier.
Over the road bridge, I walked along it to the left briefly, to reach the trail to take me right and away from it.
From this point, it was a mix of dirt trail and residential. Walking in between and along the backs of houses at first, then along the residential roads. It’s basically a straight line of walking to get back to the station, or back into Marlow Town centre.
More walks nearby
Henley to Marlow – Following the Thames Path, this walk is very civilised and has quite a posh feel to it. Lots of swans, mentioned and rowers.
Henley to Hambleden – You could say this is the shortened version of the walk from Henley to Marlow. A few miles in, you will cross over the River Thames to head to Hambleden, which is a lovely quaint village with stone and flint houses. It’s a nice easy circular walk if you are in the Henley area.
Hambleden and Medmenham walk – This is a lovely walk around two villages near Marlow. You can’t get a train there, however, you can walk there from Marlow along the Thames Path (and make it a longer walk).
Henley to Greys Court circular – This one takes you more into the Chiltern Hills countryside, with lovely views. It’s not too challenging, and would make a lovely day out near in Henley. I didn’t go into Greys Court, but just admired from outside. If you have the time, it would make a lovely addition to the walk.